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US with Bangladesh thru rain or shine

Says Ambassador

Published : 15 Mar 2023 10:17 PM | Updated : 16 Mar 2023 07:11 PM

US Ambassador in Dhaka Peter Haas on Wednesday extolled the government’s efforts to improve the business environment and said his country would remain the number one investor in Bangladesh.

“...the United States, our company and our people are with Bangladesh through rain or shine,” he said while visiting the Unique Meghnaghat 584 MW gas-based combined cycle power project amid rain.

Wednesday was also his one- year anniversary of his accreditation to Bangladesh as the US ambassador.

“I cannot think of better way to celebrate than to come here to see this power plant being built in a combination of US, Bangladesh partnership both in foreign direct investment, and through US exports of product and know-how,” he said as the US giant General Electric (GE) is also a part of the consortium of Strategic Finance Limited, Unique Hotel & Resorts Limited which is constructing the gas-based combined cycle power plant.

The project was awarded on 25th June 2018. With 92% of the total project construction work having been completed, the project will come into commercial operation in October 2023.

The ambassador commended the construction of the power plant which he said would produce electricity with the lowest carbon emissions possible using natural gas.

“The other great thing about this is Bangladesh navigates the current global crisis in terms of energy supply and energy costs and difficulty in obtaining long-time supply…this power plant once it is inaugurated will be able to provide as much electricity as many others by using half of the natural gas input,” he said.

“You get twice as much energy for the same amount of natural gas. That would be critical for the government of Bangladesh as it decides how they allocate the scarce natural gas that it's getting and making sure many people possibly have electricity,” he said.

“This power plant will generate electricity for 700,000 households here in Bangladesh and will do so as some of the lowest carbon emissions possible using natural gas. So, it’s a huge honor to be here today. It’s a great place to celebrate my one year anniversary here in Bangladesh and also a wonderful place to think of the future of our cooperation,” he said.

 Referring to the Bangladesh investment summit, the ambassador said the US companies are excited by this market as a place to invest and business.

 They look at the size of the country as the 8th most populous country in the world. US companies are very interested and looking to invest here, he said, adding that “the government is doing what it can to improve the regulatory environment and business climate so that companies can come here.”

 “I am optimistic the US will remain the number one foreign direct investor,” he said.

The US is the largest source of foreign direct investment in the Indo-Pacific region, nearing $1 trillion as of 2021, and the largest source in Bangladesh, with over $4.3 billion invested and counting, according to the US Embassy in Dhaka.

 Washington has also committed to providing the private sector in Bangladesh – mainly for agriculture, skills development, renewable energy and research, revenue system development, and overall export development – with $1 billion in investment support in the next five years.

 Joseph Giblin, Chief of the Economic Unit in U.S. Embassy Dhaka, Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat, Managing Director, Mohd. Noor Ali, Chairman, Mohammad Jahir Uddin Mollah, Chief Executive Officer of the Company and Deepesh Nanda, CEO of GE Gas Power, South Asia among others, accompanied the ambassador during the visit.

 The ambassador arrived by helicopter on the plant site in the morning from Hazrat Shahjalal International airport.

 Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat welcomed him with a bouquet at the site.

 GE is also the Original Equipment Manufacturer (“OEM”) of key equipment of the plant. 25% of the project development cost is being funded by equity.

 Remaining 75% of the project development cost is being financed by Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) as Swiss ECA- SERV covered lender, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), German Development Bank (DEG) and OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID). The loan agreements have already been signed with the lenders.

 Followed by the project construction update presentation, the Ambassador along with the Chairman, the Managing Director, the CEO of UMPL and the CEO, GE Gas Power, South Asia and the Country Leader, GE Bangladesh visited the project construction site.

 Managing Director, Chowdhury Nafeez Sarafat expressed his sincere appreciation to the US Ambassador for the “pivotal role” the US is playing in enhancing the business and political ties between Bangladesh and the US.

 He commended the contribution of US companies, including GE, in providing the latest technology gas turbines to Bangladesh's much-needed power infrastructure.

 He also said that UMPL, a collaboration of international investors, including GE and Nebras, alongside lead investors from Bangladesh, has secured international debt financing from SERV, AIIB, DEG, and OPEC Fund.

 “This financing will make it a world-class infrastructure project, providing cleaner, reliable, and affordable electricity to the people of Bangladesh.”

 He also briefed that it is an environment friendly power project as it will emit less Green House Gas during operation in comparison to other existing combined cycle power plants.

 This project will be a big contributor to the commitment of Bangladesh to achieve nationally determined contributions as per Paris Agreement.

 In this plant, GE’s latest 9HA.01 Gas Turbine has been used which will operate at more than 62% efficiency whereas the traditional gas turbine efficiency is around 30-40%.

 GE’s 9HA.01 heavy-duty gas turbine offers the most cost-effective conversion of fuel to electricity.

 Such highly energy efficient technology will generate electricity consuming a reduced level of natural gas compared to other conventional technology.

 As a result, the government of Bangladesh will be able to use available gas, one of the scarcest resources in Bangladesh today, more efficiently, he said.

 Deepesh Nanda, CEO of GE Gas Power, South Asia said “GE Gas Power is committed to bringing affordable, reliable and sustainable power generation technology to Bangladesh and has been contributing to transform the power sector in the country by offering advanced powering technology and power services solutions.”

 “We are proud of our association with the UMPL and as the project goes live it will save significant volumes of natural gas over the lifecycle of the power plant while lowering emissions and supplying the equivalent electricity needed to power up to 700,000 homes in the region.”

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